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UEFA Europa League
April 24, 2014
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: C. Çakιr
• Attendance: 55779
E. Garay 3'
C. Tévez 73'
Benfica are close to reaching their second successive Europa League final, but Juventus will surely be motivated in the return fixture. The opportunity to play the final inside their own stadium is something they will not want to pass up. For tonight, though, that is it from me, Tom Webber, for this evening. Have a great night!
FULL TIME - Benfica 2-1 Juventus: Garay opened the scoring after three minutes but the Bianconeri responded strongly, though their equaliser did not come until the 73rd minute through Tevez. However, Lima restored the Eagles' lead with a blistering late strike that means the Portuguese side hold the upper hand ahead of the second leg.
90' + 4'
THERE IS THE FINAL WHISTLE! BENFICA TAKE THE WIN!
90' + 3'
CHIELLINI!! THAT WAS THE CHANCE! Marchisio flights a lovely ball into the box and Chiellini manages to stay onside. He has acres of space by the back post but slices his volley off target. You don't want those chances falling to your centre-back!
90' + 1'
We are into the first of an additional three minutes!
MARCHISIO! The midfielder forces another save from Artur, this time with a powerful shot towards the keeper's near post. It is beaten away by the Benfica stopper, however the flag is raised by the official on the far side anyway.
WHAT A CHANCE! Pereira heads Pogba's angled ball into the back of Luisao and possession falls to Marchisio inside the box. He has time to pick his spot but sends his effort too close to Artur who manages to make the save.
Yellow Card André Almeida
In truth Benfica hadn't looked like scoring another goal since Garay found the net after three minutes, and Lima's strike seemed to come from nowhere. It turns the tie on it's head once again, with Benfica sure to take the adavantage into the second leg if they can maintain their lead in the closing stages.
MARKOVIC NEARLY MAKES IT THREE! Benfica are in the ascendancy with the crowd absolutely buzzing after that strike from Lima. Now the Brazilian dribbles across the top of the box before teeing up Markovic who attempts to place a shot into the bottom corner, but it lacks the requisite bend to sneak inside the post.
Assist Enzo Nicolás Pérez
GOOOOOOOOOOAAL! BENFICA REGAIN THE LEAD WITH A STUNNER! Perez sends a pass towards the box and Cavaleiro steps over it, allowing Lima to run onto it and lash a thunderous shot into the roof of the net. What a strike from the Brazilian.
Changes for both sides here as Ivan Cavaleiro comes on for Andre Gomez, with Pablo Osvaldo replacing Carlos Tevez just a few moments after.
A deep free kick is met by Garay at the back post and he sends the ball back into the danger area with a header. Marchisio gets up to deal with it, though, nodding the ball out of the box and relieving the pressure on his side.
Benfica attempt to get a feel for the ball again by holding onto possession inside their own half, but Rodrigo is unable to keep Pereira's eventual pass down the left flank in play.
The Bianconeri are continuing to play in the same manner, forcing Benfica back into their own half and probing for openings down the channels. They can ease off a bit in these later stages to protect against the counterattack, but at the moment they certainly look the more likely to add to their tally.
Conte will be delighted that his side have got an away goal to take back to Turin with them. They've gone from being behind in this tie to potentially having the upper hand for the second leg.
Goal Carlos Tévez
GOOOOOOAAAAL!! TEVEZ LEVELS IT! There is the goal for Juve! Asamoah picks out the Argentine with a great cutback from the byeline and he shows great composure, feigning to shoot and committing Luisao before driving into the box and slotting the ball underneath Artur.
Benfica are continuing to sit back and soak up the pressure from Juventus. It is a dangerous game, but so far they've done a good job of it.
Yellow Card Artur
STAT: Benfica have yet to lose a match at home in the Europa League proper. They have been victorious in 15 of the 17 games they have hosted, drawing the other two. They are just 20 minutes away from adding another triumph to that record!
IMPORTANT INTERCEPTION! Pogba threads a lovely through-ball to the byeline on the right wing and Lichtsteiner sends it across the face of goal with a first-time cross. Marchisio is at the back post but makes no movement to get on the end of it, so Pereira is able to hook it away unchallenged.
Rodrigo whips an early cross into the box from the left but Chiellini beats Lima to it and heads the ball behind for a corner. It is taken short before being bent into the box, but Luisao's header goes wide of the target.
That proves to be Vucinic's last involvement in the game as Conte replaces him with Giovinco. Perhaps 'The Atomic Ant' can provide Juve with the spark that will enable them to level this game. At the moment, Benfica seem fairly comfortable.
Vucinic shows a lovely touch to tee up Tevez from a long ball, but the former Manchester City striker's subsequent shot on goal is blocked by his compatriot Garay. Pirlo swings the corner in but once again it is disappointing and is cleared away quickly.
There is another change for Benfica with last weekend's hero, Lima, coming on in the place of Cardozo. The Paraguayan had a minimal effect on the game tonight.
It is Sulejmani who is replaced, so perhaps Jesus is hoping that Almeida can offer more protection on the right flank where Juve have threatened with regularity.
Andre Almeida is being readied on the near side, so the midfielder will be entering the fray in a few moments. Jorge Jesus may be looking to protect his side's lead with some fresh legs.
Artur is nearly beaten to the ball as Vucinic attempts to latch onto a bouncing clearance inside the box. Neither make a full connection, but the keeper is able to collect at the second attempt.
PENALTY CLAIM! Perez knocks the ball through the legs of Caceres but is blocked by the Uruguayan in his attempts to retrieve it on the other side. The referee shakes his head, though, and play is allowed to continue.
GOOD SAVE! Finally Artur is forced to make a save! Marchisio made a clever run towards the byeline and as the keeper came out to close him he spun around and clipped a great cross to the back post. Pogba ran onto it and headed the ball back where it came from, but Artur managed to adjust his position and get a hand to it and turn it around the post.
The second half appears to have carried on from where the first ended. Juve are enjoying more of the ball but are still struggling to test the Benfica keeper.
Pereira gets away with one there! The right-back attempted to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but inadvertently knocked it out himself. The officials clearly didn't see it, though, and awarded a goal kick anyway!
Artur hoofs the ball a long way down the pitch and Cardozo shows his strength by holding off the challenge of Bonucci. The Italian has a hand on his shirt and the Paraguayan believes he should have a free kick, holding his arms out as a plea, but the referee is unmoved.
That is good football from Juve, but Vucinic fails to capitalise as his touch lets him down on the edge of the box. It would have been a great opportunity to test the keeper, who instead has the simple task of picking the ball up from the deck unchallenged.
Markovic and Pirlo collide in the centre circle as they go in for a 50-50 challenge. It is the Benfica man who comes off worse, but after a moment of rest he is back on his feet and ready to continue.
Here we go!
Juventus are out on the pitch early, clearly keen to get the second half underway. We are just a few minutes away from the restart now.
HALF TIME - Benfica 1-0 Juventus: Garay's opener after just three minutes has given the Eagles a slender lead going into the interval, but the Bianconeri improved as the half grew. The Italians have yet to really test Artur between the opposition posts, though, and will need to improve after the second half. The hosts have threatened on the break, so may welcome renewed attempts from the Old Lady to get on the scoresheet tonight. Join me for the second half in 10 minutes!
45' + 1'
The referee blows his whistle for half time at the end of the added minute.
Yellow Card Paul Pogba
Pogba receives a booking for flying in on Siqueira as the left-back attempted to race into the Juve half. He is adamant that he touched the ball, but I don't think he is kidding anyone with his protest.
Benfica are being limited to playing on the counterattack for the most part now, but that is where they have looked most dangerous. Sulejmani chases a pass down towards the byeline but he is overpowered by Caceres, who moves him aside to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick.
Markovic has been exceptionally dynamic in this first half, and he goes on another brilliant run into the Juve penalty area. He is unable to angle his cross back into the danger zone, instead sending it behind for a goal kick.
Juve have a couple of corners on the near side but they fail to get either one into the penalty area. They really ought to be doing better from such positions.
STAT: Andrea Pirlo is making his 128th appearance in Uefa club competition tonight. So far, though, it hasn't quite been a vintage performance from him, with Juve struggling to test Artur.
At the other end of the pitch Chiellini remains prone following a coming together with Perez in the free kick moments earlier. It looked like the Argentine caught the centre-back on the chin with a flailing arm, but there wasn't a lot in it in all honesty.
Another excellent break from the hosts, with Rodrigo sprinting down the left wing. He is picked out but his cross into the box is deflected and Buffon is able to stop it from going out for a corner.
Yellow Card André Gomes
Pogba spins away from Gomes to latch onto Caceres' pass down the right. In his attempts to recover the Benfica midfielder tugs the Frenchman back and concedes a free kick. He earns himself a yellow card which means he will miss the second leg due to a suspension.
WHAT A CHANCE! But it wouldn't have counted anyway! Marchisio floats a great ball into the area which Lichtsteiner angles back across goal with a diving header. He puts it wide of the post, but the assistant referee has his flag up. Lichtsteiner certainly wasn't offside there, but just behind him Pogba may well have been.
Markovic loses possession and Pirlo instantly slips a pass up to Tevez. The Argentine turns on the afterburners and goes on a searing run around the Benfica defence, all the way into the penalty area. As he begins to think about pulling the trigger, though, he opens up space for Pereira to get a foot in and dispossess him. A good challenge from the Uruguayan as he had to time that perfectly.
Benfica looking a bit aimless up front now as Juve see more and more of the ball. They are struggling to hold onto possession and are being penned back inside the own half.
It is a much improved cross from Pirlo, forcing a nervous punch from Artur, but Chiellini was in an offside position from the free kick so had he connected it would not have counted. Juve starting to assert themselves here nonetheless.
Pereira makes a hash of trying to clear Pirlo's wayward pass and in his attempts to recover he clatters into Asamoah as the pair contest an aerial ball. Pirlo will need a better delivery from this...
Pogba, who has been particularly influential down the right flank, drills a low cross towards the near post which forces a clearance from Luisao. The Brazilian has to concede the corner, but Pirlo's delivery is headed away by the first man.
Pirlo aims a cracking ball up towards Vucinic but it is too high for the striker to really make anything of. His flick on ends up running through to the awaiting Artur.
Benfica's wingers are tracking back to good effect when Juve have possession. If they continue to do so they can slow the Bianconeri's play and become difficult to break down. They won't want to afford Pirlo too much space, though!
STAT: Benfica have won just eight of their 27 previous meetings with Italian opposition. They've made a great start tonight and have every opportunity of improving on that record, but the Bianconeri have begun penetrating the Eagles' box in the past few minutes.
Pogba is sent racing in behind the defence by a lovely through-ball but his first touch lets him down. Nevertheless, Lichtsteiner is there to make up for it but as Andre Gomes comes across to meet the Swiss, Pogba makes contact and concedes a free kick.
Pogba displays indecision as he advances into the box and fails to forge anything for his side with an awful pass towards Tevez. Benfica break through Siqueira down the left and work the ball brilliantly over to the right, but the final pass is overhit and the momentum of the attack collapses.
TEVEZ! The Argentine lets loose with Juve's first effort on goal, but it's a poor one as his shot from in excess of 20 yards skids comfortably into the hands of Artur.
Caceres and Bonucci interchange passes on the edge of their own box so an impatient Cardozo races in to charge them down. They form a triangle with Buffon and just about manage to work the ball to safety despite the Paraguayan's advances.
WHAT A CHANCE! The Eagles break at pace and once more it is Sulejmani finding space on the left. This time, though, it is Markovic who feeds him the ball, gifting the Serbian a great chance to test Buffon from inside the box. His first touch sets him perfectly but he slices across it and fails to hit the target.
That strike from Garay was the second-quickest in the Europa League this season. The Argentine tried to create something at the near post by flicking on a long Siqueira throw from the left, but Juve dealt with it capably.
Perez turns into trouble inside his own half and is quickly closed by Pirlo. The Bianconeri midfielder could have sparked a quick break there, but the loose ball from his challenge fell to a red shirt.
It has been a positive start from the hosts, who are currently knocking the ball across the pitch effectively in the midfield area. Juve have every man behind the ball as Benfica probe for an opening from deep, but surely they won't find the goals as easy to come by as that first one!
Juve instantly look to reply by threading Vucinic in behind the defence, with the Montenegrin latching onto a great through-ball and striking first time. Artur comes off his line and blocks the shot, but the striker was adjudged offside when the ball was played so a free kick is awarded to the hosts.
Assist Miralem Sulejmani
Goal Ezequiel Garay
GOOOOOOAAAL!! GARAY OPENS THE SCORING! What a start for Benfica! Sulejmani whips in the corner from the near side and Garay rises above Bonucci, nodding the ball into the bottom corner. Buffon got a hand to it, but was unable to keep it out.
Perez does brilliantly to storm through the heart of the midfield before spotting Sulejmani in space to his left. He arrows a great pass to the Serbian's feet but his first touch is poor and Lichtsteiner manages to chase back in and knock it behind for a corner.
We are underway!
We are just five minutes away from kick off in Lisbon! It's a mouthwatering game we've got on our hands here, so let's hope it lives up to the billing.
Juve are rightly known as one of the powerhouses of European football, however this is their first semi-final since the 2002-03 season. That year they went all the way to the Champions League final before being defeated by domestic rivals AC Milan. The Bianconeri faithful will be eager for European success to return to the club.
Benfica are unbeaten in their last 12 European matches at home since a 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the group stage of last season’s Champions League. Such a formidable record may concern the Bianconeri, who have only won once out of the four occasions that they have travelled to face Portuguese opposition in continental competition.
Lima, who scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Olhanense which clinched Benfica's 33rd Portuguese league title, is replaced by Oscar Cardozo for tonight's game. Eduardo Salvio is out for the rest of the season and Nico Gaitan is unfit, so Lazar Markovic comes into the midfield. For Juve there is a big boost as Carlos Tevez passes a late fitness test to partner Mirko Vucinic in attack. Leonardo Bonucci and Martin Caceres also join Giorgio Chiellini in defence after sitting out the 1-0 win against Bologna last weekend.
Juventus substitutes: Storari, Ogbonna, Barzagli, Padoin, Giovinco, Osvaldo, Llorente.
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Tevez, Vucinic.
Benfica substitutes: Oblak, Jardel, Almeida, Amorim, Djuricic, Cavaleiro, Lima.
Benfica (4-3-3): Artur; Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira; Markovic, Perez, Gomes; Rodrigo, Cardozo, Sulejmani.
The line-ups have been announced, so lets take a look at how the two sides will shape up this evening.
There is some history between these sides, too. When they last met in a semi-final Eusebio scored in both legs to inspire the Eagles to a 3-0 aggregate victory, securing a place in the 1967-68 European Champion Clubs’ Cup showpiece. But current Juve coach Antonio Conte has fresher memories of success for his side: the Italian played in both legs as Juve eliminated Benfica en route to lifting the 1992-93 Uefa Cup.
Benfica were runners-up in this tournament last season after being beaten by Chelsea in Amsterdam, so Jorge Jesus will be eager to take his side one step further this time around. But with a potential final on home turf awaiting them, Juve have more than enough motivation to progress of their own. This game has all the makings of a European classic.
Hello and welcome to tonight's play-by-play analysis of the Europa League semi-final first leg between last season's beaten finalists Benfica, and favourites to lift the trophy this time around, Juventus. My name is Tom Webber, and I will be guiding you through all the action at the Estadio da Luz this evening!
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